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Chapter titles and numbering!

Because Scrivener offers so much flexibility and gives you so many options to choose between, sometimes you may feel overwhelmed by it all. My advice is to leave the defaults as they are and, only if you feel the need to change something, should you start to explore what options are open to you.

So, let’s explore today’s topic: Chapter titles and numbering …

Chapter titles and numbering

Structuring in Scrivener is all about creating folders and documents, and one of the first decisions you’ll be making is choosing whether just to number your chapters or to have titles, or both, or neither.

It’s totally up to you, and, as a bonus, Scrivener offers to automate the numbering for you.

How to title your chapters
Chapter titles New folder

When you create a new folder for a new chapter, Scrivener labels it as ‘New Folder’.

While this dummy text is still highlighted in blue, you can type your chosen title. Here, I have called the chapters Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and this next one is destined to be Chapter 4.

Chapter titles Splitting chapters

While I am writing my outline, I stick this simple system: 1, 2, 3, 4, …

If, later, I decide a chapter is too large and I need to break it into two smaller chapters, I’ll re-title only those two. In the example, I’ve broken chapter 2 into two, and called them 2a and 2b.

Won’t that look daft when the book is compiled? No …

No, because Scrivener gives you the option not to use your folder titles, and to use automatic numbering instead. So, I don’t need to spend precious time renaming all my folders whenever I make a change to the structure of my novel. I’m content with 1, 2a, 2b, 3, 4, …

How to control what appears as the title when compiling

Chapter titles Title ticked as defaultNotice that, when you select File / Compile and reveal the formatting tab, the column headed ‘Title’ shows a tick against the yellow highlighted Level 1+. This is the default option, which means (unless you change it) whatever title you used for your chapters will appear at the start of each chapter.

Notice also that, in the same row, there is no tick for ‘Text’.

For Level 2+ (my scenes), the ‘Title’ is unticked and the ‘Text’ is ticked.

(If you need a reminder about what these levels are all about, check out my blog post on Formatting levels.)

The default provided by Scrivener is therefore: to use the titles you choose for the chapters, but not for the scenes – and to output the text from the scenes, but not whatever titles you used for them.

When you think about this, it makes a lot of sense. However, you are in control and you can output whatever you wish!

Automatic numbering in chapter titles

CHAPTER ONENotice, in the formatting pane, that Scrivener presents two lines of text: CHAPTER ONE and Title.

Again, this is the default, and you can change it if you wish. How?

Tag $tClicking on the Section Layout… button opens up a window with three tabs. The first pane is the Title Prefix and Suffix pane.

For the Prefix, it displays Chapter <$t> and it’s the tag (the characters within triangular brackets) which determines that the word ONE (rather than the number 1, or the Roman numeral I) is displayed.

If you change the tag, you’ll see different versions of the chapter numbering. Selecting Help / Placeholder reveals the full extent of tags and, if you scroll down quite a long way, you’ll find the ones used to control automatic numbering.

Chapter titles tags for automatic numbering

Lots to choose between!

Using your own titles, or not?

Chapter titles Tag example of numbering chaptersIf I choose <$n>, a digit version of the chapter numbering is displayed.

Since my numbering might not be perfect (eg 1, 2a, 2b, 3, 4, …), I have the choice of using the automatic numbering and let Scrivener count the chapters for me. Phew!

I then have to decide about my titles. Do I dream up a title for each chapter, or not?

If I decide I do want my own titles (as well as the numbering, or instead of), I simply overwrite the folder titles in my Binder.

If I decide not to do this, to remove the default Title is easy: delete it from within the display area.

Equally easy is to remove the word ‘CHAPTER’ and just leave the number, or delete the default numbering option altogether.

Or, if you don’t want anything to appear at the head of each chapter, it’s simple: just untick the box in the Title column!

As I said at the start of this post: Scrivener offers so much flexibility and gives you so many options to choose between. In the next blog post, I’ll investigate how to control the appearance of the chapter title.

If you’d like to see a demonstration of any of the features discussed in this blog post, book a place on one of my Simply Scrivener Special webinars. 60 minutes of Q&A with me – Tuesdays at noon my time – free!

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